Oct. 23, 2014
Notre Dame @ Virginia Tech
Notre Dame @ Virginia
: Free / Virginia Vide Stream: Paid
Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014 – 7 p.m. (ET)
Records:Notre Dame (5-14, 2–6 ACC), Virginia (11–9, 4-3 ACC)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – On the heels of a thrilling, come-from-behind victory at home against Boston College last Sunday, the University of Notre Dame volleyball team hits the road this weekend to the Commonwealth of Virginia for meetings with the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Virginia Cavaliers. The Irish will first do battle with the Hokies in Blacksburg at 7 p.m. Friday, before busing to Charlottesville for a showdown with the Cavaliers at 7 p.m. Sunday.
Notre Dame (5-14, 2-6 ACC) looks to carry the momentum earned in the win over the Eagles on the road this weekend, as it tries to improve on its 2-7 record – including 0-6 in true road matches – away from Purcell Pavilion.
The Irish should enter Friday’s match with some confidence after they overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat BC in their annual Block Out Cancer match last Sunday. Showing much improvement in all facets of the game, Notre Dame hit .266, tallied 57 digs and produced a remarkable 18 blocks to out-last the Eagles.
Senior Jeni Houser (13), graduate student Nicole Smith (12) and freshman Sam Fry (12) combined for 37 kills (.298 A%) and 18 blocks (3 solo, 15 assisted) to lead the Irish, while freshman libero Natalie Johnson tied her season high with 17 digs. Also playing well was sophomore Katie Higgins (8K, .400 A%), 7B) and freshman Maddie Plumlee (5K, 2SA, 3D, 3B), who made the most of her opportunity in the fifth set.
Trailing 5-3 in the final frame, Plumlee tallied a kill and then went back to serve. What followed was a 7-0 Irish run that featured two Fry kills and two Plumlee service aces to give Notre Dame control of the set and match.
With another Atlantic Coast Conference win under their belt, the Irish are set to meet a pair of opponents that are having up-and-down seasons.
The Hokies (8-12, 1-6 ACC) are in the midst of a four-match skid that featured heartbreaking five-set losses at Clemson and at home to rival Virginia, and a pair of four-set losses on the road at Miami and No. 4 Florida State. VT’s lone conference win came at home against NC State Oct. 4. Earlier in the year, the Hokies beat No. 12 Illinois, 3-2, and were swept by Washington State, a team the Irish lost to 3-1.
Picked 10th in the preseason ACC poll (one spot ahead of ND), the Hokies feature six players that have totaled 100 kills or more. Preseason all-ACC selection Kathryn Caine averages 2.37 kills per set and is attacking at a .312 clip. Libero Megan Beckwith is tied for ninth in the ACC in service aces per set (0.33), as she has aced opponents a team-high 26 times this year. Meanwhile, sophomore outside hitter Lindsey Owens is putting together another solid all-around year with 3.30 kills, 2.70 digs and 0.51 blocks per set. She is also fourth on the team with 14 service aces.
The Irish and Hokies have only met on the court five times, with Notre Dame holding a slim 3-2 lead. Last year, the two teams split the season series, as each team won in four sets on their home court.
Virginia, meanwhile, sits 11-9 overall and 4-3 in the ACC and has been the definition of unpredictable this season. The squad started the year 6-0 and then dropped four in a row before going 5-5 in its last 10 matches. The Cavaliers have alternated a win and a loss in each of their last five matches, with all three losses coming at the hands of No. 12 North Carolina and nationally-ranked Duke.
Middle blocker Natalie Bausback is having a fine year for the Cavaliers, as she averages 2.27 kills and 1.06 blocks per set while hitting .360, which is sixth in the ACC. Setter Lauren Fuller, a preseason all-ACC selection, is third in the league in assists per set (10.68) and also averages 2.05 digs, 0.43 blocks and 0.15 service aces per set.
The Irish and Cavaliers have met only three times on the court, with two of those meetings coming in 2013. UVA had its way with the Irish a year ago, as it won 3-1 at Memorial Gym before sweeping Notre Dame at Purcell. The first set of the match at Purcell proved to be memorable, as the Cavaliers outlasted the Irish, 39-37, in the longest set during the 25-point era in Notre Dame history. Amazingly in the frame, defensive specialist Erin Klosterman, who is listed as 5-5 on the roster page, played all three front-row positions after the Irish were out of substitutions and even recorded a block assist with middle blocker Andie Olsen.
Fans can follow both matches through live stats or paid video broadcasts. Links are on UND.com.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director